Coronavirus

Suburban golf courses remain open, despite COVID-19

New York has banned basketball, but it allows golfing.

Employee Rick Lambert monitors the number of people entering the concession area at Forest Park Golf Course, in New York, while staggering tee times for golfers due to the coronavirus.

Employee Rick Lambert monitors the number of people entering the concession area at Forest Park Golf Course, in New York, while staggering tee times for golfers due to the coronavirus. Kathy Willens/AP/Shutterstock

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses and public playgrounds, some state-run golf courses on Long Island and in Westchester remain open – despite those New York City suburbs being among the areas hardest hit by the new coronavirus. 

Most public and private golf courses have been closed for an indefinite period of time, however, including President Donald Trump’s golf clubs in the Bronx and Westchester. 

In an April 2 briefing, Westchester County Executive George Latimer confirmed that the county’s six golf courses remain open. “We have kept the county parks open so that people who have no other available recreation have at least some opportunity where they can get out, stretch their legs, get some fresh air,” Latimer said. “Golf, to me, is analogous to hiking and bicycling, which are relatively individual sports. You do it with one, two or three other people, but not with 20 or 40 as other types of sports.” 

Nassau County, on Long Island, announced it was closing all county-owned golf courses and driving ranges early last week, but it reversed the decision on March 26. “The golf courses are officially reopened with some modifications to accommodate social distancing,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at a press conference. 

On Wednesday, Cuomo closed basketball courts and playgrounds to prevent New Yorkers from increasing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by playing team sports. Parks to remain open. But why are golf courses like parks rather than basketball courts or soccer fields? 

Some might suspect classism: Basketball is more popular than golf among younger, inner-city and lower-income New Yorkers and communities of color. Golf is more typically played by middle-aged and older suburbanites – who are wealthier, older and whiter, on average – in part because it requires larger spaces and more money to play. 

But suburban government officials deny that has anything to do with the disparity in how golf and basketball are treated. “People perceive golf to be an elite sport and that’s why it’s kept open, but that’s not true,” Latimer told City & State. “Golf continues because you generally only have three or four people at one time in close contact with each other.”

Since the state classifies golf courses as parks, state-run courses can continue operating. “State parks are open for outdoor recreation and exercise,” said Dan Keefe, a spokesperson from New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Measures are being implemented at our courses on social distancing.” 

The state has extended the interval between tee times from eight to 16 minutes to avoid close contact between players who are not playing together. Equipment to clean dirty golf balls, known as ball washers, and bunker rakes, which are used to smoothen sand along the course, have been removed. The state installed foam into the cups on greens, so players will no longer touch the flags, reducing contamination. Golf carts are now limited to one driver and are sanitized after each use. 

According to Latimer, the restaurants at each course have been closed, and the county has also removed the takeout option of food and beverages. County police continue to monitor the situation by circulating the parks to enforce social distancing, preventing a large conglomeration of people. 

At Maple Moor Golf Course in Westchester, all facilities have been closed except their pro shop, in which players pay for their tee times and exchange the golf cart keys. Changing rooms are closed to prevent contamination and transmission of the virus. 

But despite these efforts, it seems to some critics that a simpler ban on golfing would more effectively prevent any interaction – such as two friends playing together, standing less than six feet apart, and spreading the virus that way. There is also the question of whether all of society should simply forgo these recreational activities to send an unambiguous message about the need to stay home. “I think we're sending mixed messages to the community,” Paul Feiner, a supervisor in the Westchester town of Greenburgh, told City & State. “The only way we will beat coronavirus is if people practice social distancing – at least for the coming weeks.”

The state has not yet discussed the possibility of closing golf courses. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey shut all golf courses on Wednesday. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont has closed public courses, but allowed private golf courses to remain open, provided they are taking proper safety measures. With the weather warming up and public courses still open in Westchester, golfers could come to New York from the entire tri-state area to play. 

With reporting by Amanda Luz Henning Santiago.

Correction: Paul Feiner and Ned Lamont's names were spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this story.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.